United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF ORDER
FILED ON APRIL 27, 2016
OKI MOLLWAY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Noetzel seeks reconsideration of the order this court entered
on April 27, 2016, denying Noetzel’s Motion to Remand.
Noetzel asserts but does not establish manifest error of law
or fact in that order. Accordingly, the court denies the
to an ERISA plan, Hawaii Medical Service Association provided
Noetzel with medical insurance coverage for injuries she had
suffered in a motor vehicle accident. See ECF No.
1-2, PageID #s 12-13.
filed a motor vehicle tort action in Hawaii state court, then
entered into a confidential settlement agreement with the
defendants in that case. See id., PageID # 13.
learning of the settlement, HMSA notified Noetzel of its
intent to seek reimbursement from the settlement for the
health benefits provided to her, pursuant to the
reimbursement terms of its plan. See id., PageID #s
13-14. According to the plan’s “Guide to
Benefits, ” HMSA
shall have a right to be reimbursed for any benefits we
provide, from any recovery received from or on behalf of any
third party or other source of recovery in connection with
the injury or illness, including, but not limited to,
proceeds from any:
Settlement, judgment, or award;
We shall have a first lien on such recovery proceeds, up to
the amount of total benefits we pay or have paid related to
the injury or illness. You must reimburse us for any benefits
paid, even if the recovery proceeds obtained (by settlement,
judgment, award, insurance proceeds, or other payment):
Do not specifically include medical expenses; Are stated to
be for general damages only; Are for less than the actual
loss or alleged loss suffered by you due to the injury or
illness; Are obtained on your behalf by any person or entity,
including your estate, legal representative, parent, or
attorney; Are without any admission of liability, fault, or
causation by the third party or payor.
Our lien will attach to and follow such recovery proceeds
even if you distribute or allow the proceeds to be
distributed to another person or entity. Our lien may be
filed with the court, any third party or other source of
recovery money, or any entity or person receiving payment
regarding the illness or injury.
ECF No. 10-2, PageID # 158.
2, 2015, Noetzel filed a Petition for Determination of
Validity of Claim of Lien of HMSA in state court.
See ECF No. 1-2. The Petition sought a determination
by the state court, pursuant to Haw. Rev. Stat. §§
431:13-1-3(a)(10) and 663-10, that HMSA was not entitled to
reimbursement from the settlement proceeds because
HMSA’s lien sought “reimbursement from settlement
funds that do not correspond to special damages recovered in
the subject settlement.” See id., PageID # 15.
Noetzel notes that Haw. Rev. Stat. § 663-10 refers to
recovery by an insurer like HMSA of benefits paid equivalent
to the special, not general, damages in a settlement. See
id., PageID # 14.
removed the action to federal court on August 7, 2015,
asserting that this court has original jurisdiction over this
matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, because
Noetzel’s state law claims are “completely
preempted” by § 502(a) of the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a).
See ECF No. 1, PageID #s 3-4.
response, Noetzel filed a Motion to Remand on August 24,
2015, arguing that her state court action implicated only
state law, was not completely preempted by ERISA, and was
therefore not a matter over which this court had federal
subject matter jurisdiction. See ECF No. 6.
January 28, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued his Findings
and Recommendation to Grant Elizabeth Noetzel’s Motion
to Remand. See ECF No. 16, PageID # 236. The F &
R recommended remanding this action on the ground that, under
the two-part test set forth by the United States Supreme
Court in Aetna Health Inc. v. Davila, 542 U.S. 200,
210 (2004), Noetzel’s action was not completely
preempted by ERISA § 502(a). See id., PageID #s
April 27, 2016, this court rejected the Magistrate
Judge’s F & R and denied Noetzel’s Motion to
Remand, determining that Noetzel’s claim was indeed
“completely preempted” by ERISA § 502(a).
See ECF No. 23.
remand order is an interlocutory order governed by Local Rule
60.1. Under Local Rule 60.1, a reconsideration motion may be
based on “(a) Discovery of new material facts not
previously available; (b) Intervening change in law; and (c)
Manifest error of law or fact.” A “manifest
error” is “[a]n error that is plain and
indisputable, and that amounts to a complete disregard of the
controlling law or the credible evidence in the
record.” Black’s Law Dictionary 660
(10th ed. 2014).
disagreement with a previous order is an insufficient basis
for reconsideration.” White v. Sabatino, 424
F.Supp.2d 1271, 1274 (D. Haw. 2006). “Whether or not to
grant reconsideration is committed to the sound discretion of
the court.” Id. (internal quotation marks
Noetzel Is Not Entitled to Reconsideration
Regarding the Court’s Determination that the
First Prong of Davila Was Met.
the two-pronged test for complete preemption set forth by the
United States Supreme Court in Aetna Health Inc. v.
Davila, 542 U.S. 200, 214 (2004), a claim is completely
preempted if, first, “an individual, at some point in
time, could have brought his claim under ERISA § 502(a),
” and, second, “there is no other independent
legal duty that is implicated by a defendant’s
actions.” 542 U.S. at 214. In the order denying the
remand motion, this court determined that, because both
prongs of the Davila test were met, Noetzel’s
claim was “completely preempted” by ERISA §
502(a). See ECF No. 23.
seeks reconsideration of the denial of her Motion to Remand
by rehashing her earlier arguments. Those arguments are no
more persuasive now than they were earlier.
regard to the first Davila prong, Noetzel insists
that her claim could not have been brought under ERISA §
502(a) because it does not implicate ERISA or an ERISA plan.
See ECF No. 25-1, PageID #s 514-18. According to
Noetzel, her claim does not implicate ERISA because Noetzel
never alleges that an ERISA plan is involved. See
id., PageID # 510 (“In the Hawai’i State
Court reimbursement determination Petition, Noetzel never
raised or referenced any term of the HMSA plan, nor did she
raise the issue that certain terms of the HMSA plan were void
under Hawai’i law.”).
argument conflicts with Davila, which instructed
courts not to accept claims at face value, but to examine the
essence of claims in determining whether they are completely
preempted by ERISA § 502(a). 542 U.S. at 214
(“[D]istinguishing between pre-empted and
non-pre-empted claims based on the particular label affixed
to them would elevate form over substance and allow parties
to evade the pre-emptive scope of ERISA simply by relabeling
their contract claims as [state law] claims.”). As the
Ninth Circuit has noted, “Complete preemption removal
is an exception to the otherwise applicable rule that a
‘plaintiff is ordinarily entitled to remain in state
court so long as its complaint does not, on its face,
affirmatively allege a federal claim.’” Marin
Gen. Hosp. v. Modesto & Empire Traction Co., 581
F.3d 941, 945 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Pascack Valley
Hosp. v. Local 464A UFCW Welfare Reimbursement Plan, 388
F.3d 393, 398 (3d Cir. 2004)). “This is so because